China kicks off military drills around Taiwan after Tsai meets U.S. House speaker

China kicks off military drills around Taiwan after Tsai meets U.S. House speaker

Baku, April 8, AZERTAC

China sent 42 warplanes near Taiwan on Saturday as the country kicked off three days of military drills and "combat readiness patrols" around the self-ruled island, just days after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen incurred Beijing's wrath for meeting , according to Japan Times.

The Chinese People's Liberation Army's Eastern Theater Command, which oversees operations in the East China Sea including the Taiwan Strait, said in a short statement that the "Joint Sword" drills and combat patrols were being held in the waters and airspace to the north, south and east of Taiwan and would conclude on Monday.

"This is a serious warning against the 'Taiwan independence' separatist forces' collusion and provocation with external forces, and it is a necessary action to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity," Eastern Theater spokesman Senior Col. Shi Yi said.

Taiwan's Defense Ministry said later in the day that it had detected 42 Chinese aircraft and eight naval vessels around the island as of 11 a.m. It said 29 of the planes had crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait, a division designed to keep military aircraft from both sides at a safe distance in order to prevent miscalculations from erupting into conflict.

Separately, media reports said live-fire drills had begun Saturday off the coast of China's Fujian province, across the Taiwan Strait. On Friday, the Fujian Maritime Safety Administration said live fire exercises would also take place Monday in the area near Pingtan county, about 130 kilometers from the Taiwanese city of Hsinchu.

Tsai returned to Taiwan on Friday after capping a visit to two of the country's dwindling number of allies with a transit through California, where she held a historic meeting with U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the No. 3 official in the American government.

Taiwan's Defense Ministry criticized the latest military exercises as a threat to "regional peace, stability and security," adding that China had "used President Tsai’s visit to the United States as an excuse to conduct the military exercises."

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